The Huntsman

The Huntsman sniffed the warm, dry air. The scent of tree barks and the sweet scent of countless flowers filled his nose but there was one distinct scent he was seeking. He had a face that very much resembled a skull—eyes sunk deep in their sockets, gaunt cheeks, and lips so thin they seemed to vanish when he smiled. The Huntsman was smiling now. He had gotten the scent he needed—the scent of his prey.

He gracefully made his way through the woods—his feet never making any sound, his eyes always scanning his environment, his arrow nocked and ready. All around him the place was bursting with life. From somewhere on his left he could hear the gurgling flow of a stream, behind him came the flapping of wings, and on his right he heard twigs breaking. He sharply turned to his right. Still as a tree, quiet as Death, the Huntsman waited.

Sharp eyes waited for signs of prey. Then, just behind the shrubs and the green, he saw movement—a color of brown passing by swiftly. The Huntsman was on the move. He saw quick glimpses of his prey in front of him, zigzagging along the thick trees. Ducking below branches and leaping over thick roots, the Huntsman chased his game. He could hear his prey running in front of him, brushing against the leaves—to slow down meant death. The Huntsman was a child of the woods—he had walked through its land countless of times. He knew that a short distance in front of him was a clearing where white Snowkisses abundantly grew, and overlooking that clearing was a rock formation, the Sleeping Giant it was called, covered with moss and creeping vines—a perfect spot for a kill and the Huntsman knew how to get there.

The Huntsman crouched at the edge of the Sleeping Giant and below him was the clearing filled white with the flowers. The Huntsman waited for his prey. It didn’t take a minute before the target showed up. She burst onto the clearing, panting and frightened. She was such a beautiful creature. Her death would mean bags of gold. The prey looked around her. Warily, fearfully, she ventured deeper into the clearing. Deathly silence surrounded her—thick and unnerving. The Huntsman pulled an arrow and nocked it. He pulled the string up to his lips. One deep breath. Then he released. The arrow flew, cutting through air, straight to the prey’s heart. She knew not where it came. She felt no pain—the shocked had numbed her. She fell on her back, onto the welcoming blossoms of Snowkisses. Her life trickled out of her, reddening the white flowers.

The Huntsman stood over the body. He studied the beauty his prey possessed. Hair blacker than the darkest of night, skin whiter than the snow she was named after, lips red as the life seeping out of her. The Queen would pay a great deal of gold for the child’s heart. The Huntsman drew a knife tucked hidden in his boot. Sharp and menacing, the knife was plunged in the girl’s chest.